Finding Inspiration in Dreams

This morning I awoke from a night of unusual dreams – the kind of dreams that, upon waking, can’t really be described or explained.

These dreams were not chronological or rational. There weren’t realistic transitions – I was in one place doing one thing, then suddenly, magically I am in another place altogether and yet in my dream world it makes sense.

I awoke feeling inspired.

It’s like these dreams blossomed from the creative part of my brain and my writerly instincts are kicking in.

The first stories I ever wrote were similar to these kinds of dreams – they were adventure stories about new places that needed to be explored and getting lost at sea or deserted on a magical island. I was a kid when I wrote these stories.

I enjoy reading stories about made up worlds that are so in-depth you are able to believe they might actually exist. I admire J.K. Rowling for her ability to create such a detailed world in the Harry Potter series – maybe there really is magic among us but us “muggles” fail to see it. I love the concept that there are entire worlds that exist right under our noses, that the unusual phenomena that we find logical explanations for are really the doing of something bigger than ourselves.

In the back of my mind I’ve always thought about writing a children’s book or young adult novel with a premise like this, but I’d begun to think I’d lost that child-like imagination that was so vivid in my youth. I feared that I couldn’t write such a fantastical story as an adult.

underwater roomBut then, I dream about an underwater room hidden in a sprawling mansion that is filled creatures never seen in the real world, and I think maybe that child-like imagination is still there. It makes itself known in my subconscious, coming out in my dreams.

That dream inspired me to start writing a story, one that I probably would not have otherwise written.

Do your dreams inspire you to write?

Finding Inspiration: Nature

A few days ago, I was driving home from work on a cloudy but warm fall day. As I exited the parkway, rather than turn left to go home, I turned right toward a local park on a bay. Despite this park’s proximity to my house, I don’t think I had ever been there.

I wandered onto a nature trail through the woods. I took in the earthy scent of the dried leaves, the sound of them crunching beneath my feet. As I walked, I didn’t know how far this trail would take me, I considered turning back.

Curious to know what was ahead, I continued on. At each bend that obstructed my view, I wanted to know what was beyond it. Though I didn’t know where I would wind up, I wanted to know where it would end.

Writing is like that sometimes. We don’t always know where it will take us, but we keep moving the story forward, letting the characters tell their stories. I think the goal is for our readers to experience that with our stories, the unexplainable desire to know what happens next, the urge to keep going, keep reading.

When we’re feeling uninspired, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away for a little while. Get a change of scenery, do something that will clear your mind, like taking a walk.

Eventually I came to a fork in the path; I could continue straight or I could go to the left where the path seemed narrower, less inviting. I  followed the trail to the left and this took me straight to the bay.

There was a small picnic bench – a perfect spot for writing, I thought – an old boat, washed up and rotting, and a marina just a few yards away.

This is the washed up boat I found:

 

Use this image as a writing prompt – what is the story behind this boat, how did it get there?

NaNoWriMo 2012

What is NaNoWriMo you ask?

November month is National Novel Writing Month. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30. That’s 1,666.66 words a day, every day, for thirty days straight.

For anyone who has ever thought of writing a novel but was scared off by the time and effort involved, NaNoWriMo is for you because it’s all about quantity, not quality. It’s about taking risks, pushing yourself farther than you thought you could go and writing on the fly.

This will be my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo. Last year was the first time I achieved the 50,000 word goal, and it wasn’t easy. For me, the best part about NaNoWriMo 2011 is that it helped me get into the practice of writing every single day, a goal I constantly struggle to meet.

Last November, I woke up at an hour early every day (well, every day except one) to write. Then I came home from work, and I wrote some more. Some nights, I took a break to eat dinner and wrote even more. The house may have been messier, the laundry and my social life were neglected, but I wrote more than 50,000 words in just thirty days time, and finished the draft of the novel that I had been trying to finish for years. It’s fun, it’s torturous, it’s invigorating and scary all at the same time. And I can’t wait to do it again.

I hope to blog my way through National Novel Writing Month, and I’ll be on Twitter (@JenniferK220) looking for inspiration and support!

So if you’re someone who has said, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel” here is your chance! It’s not too late to start throwing around ideas. Create some quirky characters and put them in a crazy situation then just start writing and see what happens.